Many immigration lawyers were "very surprised" at the UK's sudden decision, announced in the first week of December 2018, to suspend the Tier 1 Investor visa category in a bid to tackle, as alleged by the Home Office, money laundering and organised crime in some cases.

The Tier 1 Investor visa category was stated to be suspended for new applicants from midnight on 7 December 2018 as the Home Office tried to restrict the scheme.

However, reportedly on 11 December 2018 a Home Office spokesperson said that: "the tier 1 investor visa is not currently suspended, however we remain committed to reforming the route" "a further announcement will be made in due course."

Edward Wanambwa, head of the immigration team at law firm Russell-Cooke, said: "threatening to suspend such a popular and longstanding visa category, and without proper prior notice, was very surprising.

There was no doubt many individuals who were preparing to apply under the previous Tier 1 Investor rules and faced a difficult few days - after being told this category would be suspended.

We will need to wait and see what the new Tier 1 Investor rules provide for, but it seems very likely if not certain that once the reforms are introduced those who still wish to reside in the UK on the basis of solely investing money here will be faced with a significantly more challenging set of eligibility criteria coupled with a far more burdensome visa application process. As such, prospective applicants under this visa category should seek independent legal and other professional advice and (subject to that advice) almost certainly and without delay apply before the category is suspended again and/or become far more restrictive".

Edward is a partner in and head of the immigration team and is also a partner in the employment team. He has advised on both immigration and employment law since qualifying as a solicitor in 2003.